SCARBOROUGH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A lot of parents and students are upset because students parking at Scarborough High School may have to pay up to $100 for the year.
The school board is set to vote on this issue at its August 16 meeting.
The school board is looking for ways to raise more revenue, as property taxes already are going up to pay for the new Wentworth School, and the board has had to make a lot of program cuts in the meantime. Plus, Wentworth school construction is expected to make parking a little tighter.
The proposed cost of the parking permits is $25 dollars a quarter or $100 for the school year, though those dollar amounts are not set in stone.
Senior Class President Jack Sullivan is leading an effort to fight the fee, saying families have already been taxed enough. "The recession is hitting everybody, not just the school," he said. "It's hitting families as well. We actually have a pretty high percent of students on the free and reduced lunch program."
Sullivan said that student leaders were made aware at the end of the last school year that the administration was considering parking fees, but they were surprised to learn that the school board was already planning to vote on a plan. "We were not given any say in this, the students," Sullivan said. "So we really want to be able to give our two cents as well as the administration and the school board."
Sullivan is organizing a petition drive and protest through Facebook. 295 people had joined his event as of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
School board member Aymie Hardesty says the board is not taking this decision lightly, but they're trying to find creative ways to raise needed revenue. "The parking fees are not necessarily going to some 'fun' fund. They're going to educational programs," she said.
Hardesty said accommodations will be made for students who really can't pay that much money. "The kids who can't afford that, but need that service, they're not going to be forgotten."
The school board meeting is scheduled for 7 pm on August 16 in the town council chambers.
According to the Maine Principals' Association, parking fees are rare in Maine, but they are not unheard of. Executive Director Dick Durost said most schools that charge for parking tend to charge something close to $5 for parking stickers that ensure that students are the only ones parking in the lots.
Larger fees of $100 or more are common in other parts of the country.